the eggs and tomatoes of ministry

the eggs and tomatoes of ministry September 24, 2011

I went to college and studied theology and bible. I went to seminary and took biblical studies and languages. I took another masters in religion and ministry. When I finally entered the ministry I was prepared for battle. I was ready to take on the spiritual warfare I’d been prepared for. I was David commissioned and sent out to face Goliath for the sake of God’s people.

There was certainly serious warfare. But what usually ambushed me were the incessant tiny insults, insignificant criticisms, minor oppositions, small rejections… the eggs and tomatoes of ministry.

What I needed most of the time, I was to discover, wasn’t armour and a sword but tough skin and a frying pan.

(The original of this cartoon is available for $150. Just email me.)

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  • I can vouch for the truth in this.

    On the same note:

    I’d say that there is a common feeling among Christians today that they are somehow persecuted…here in the US, even in the Southeast where they are by and large the majority, they constantly talk about how tiny minorities are taking their rights away. I think some pastors are promoting this mindset by constantly talking about how the Devil is going to be against them if they truly follow god, and that they should expect persecution. When no persecution exists they tend to make it up.

    Eggs and tomatoes isn’t persecution, it’s part of the job. Persecution is something Christians in the US (and likely Canada) haven’t got a clue about.

  • I agree with Matt. Disagreement is often concluded to be persecution, but its just disagreement. I know there are places in the world where there is real persecution. But its not here in the US. (I also have a hunch that what many feel is persecution is really just societal change. That’s another subject, but I think we are going through a major change right now, and its just uncomfortable. Not persecution, but just adapting to something new.)

    I think its also interesting to note that the tomatoes and eggs are coming from the inside out, not the outside in!

  • It’s the small stuff (eggs and tomatoes) that hurt. Big stuff is noble, grand–girded loins.
    Thomas a Kempis Imitation of Christ : beautiful ongoing analysis and response to the reality of agony and ecstasy and the crucible work of transformation and reconfiguration.

  • Kurt

    Yes and amen…

  • All such battles lie within our ego misalignment – the realm of thoughts!

  • Pat Pope


  • There is something about the fact that the tomatoes and egg yolks are coloured that seems to drive the point home even more, for me at least. How many eggs does it take to break down the one holding the shield is a question that any church leader should think about… and don’t even get me going on the tomatoes!

  • In life, you could fall under the onslaught of the tomatoes and eggs, or you can, as you said, get a frying pan!

    We can allow those tiny insults to disarm us, or we can feed on them and grow.

    The choice is ours.

  • Pat Pope

    Very true, Fred. Of course, the learning is sometimes hard to come by when you’re in the heat of the battle enduring an onslaught of tomatoes and eggs. But in our quiet moments and usually long after the situation has passed, there is much to be learned from these experiences.

  • Elderyl

    When life sends you eggs and tomatoes, make an omelet!
    Seriously, this is truth. Sometimes those eggs get thrown from quite a distance. We left our last church for many reasons, not the least of which was the pastor telling me I’d be happier somewhere else. We had been working on a non traditional service for two years, a service that incorporated a lot of arts in worship. This week, my former pastor finally paid a visit to an elderly friend who has had many hospitalizations this year. Along with praying for my friends health (with prompting) he also prayed my friend might find a church where he could be happy. I guess this is throwing the same egg over again. He then told him that my new church ” stole his service.” Not sure quite what that meant, unless it is because a musician and visual artist transferred there. It seems sad that a new service couldnt go forward , or at least its demise was blamed, on account of two people leaving, especially after being asked to go….. At any rate I still had nightmares that night that somehow he was going to throw some rotten tomatoes into my new church. Hand over the frying pan, I’m gonna make an omelet

  • Whoever has not thrown egg or tomato: raise your hands. I would, but I ‘m carrying in the groceries. When I read these threads: it’s all victims victimized making the omlettes heroically.
    There, there. There, there. (That was soft-boiled)

  • Pat Pope

    Hi Sam. Your point is valid. For me, I responded to the cartoon as it expresses some recent experiences that I’ve had and I would assume the same for others. That’s what David’s work does; it sums up well what many have experienced. However, I in no way have a desire to be a victim and have endeavored to move on. That being said, our experiences do shape us and rather than just ignoring them I choose to let them be instructional to my life. It also takes time. Just like any major event in a person’s life, I think we’d think twice about someone who just jumped up and went on as though something traumatic hadn’t happened to them. That’s why I like David’s work because it provides a forum to discuss what some of us do not have the freedom or opportunity to discuss anywhere else. It’s good to be heard and understood and not to feel as though you’re all alone.

  • Pat, you are always one of the reasonable, well-spoken, and sensible voices on these threads. My father considered himself an “irenic” minister, but managed to split 2 churches at the end of his career–conservative “theologically” and liberal in social and political concerns. Damaged and damaging if we do or don’t do is my “conviction of sin”–walk on water (wow) or walk on eggs (woe) we are all involved in something like an ongoing mission impossible: with suits of armor or loin cloth it makes no never mind. Victims & victimizers, none of us can throw the first stone, but we do. Well, I do & bet I’m not the only one. goodguys&badguysRUs.